GenCon 2007: Nine Days?

edited August 2006 in Meetups / Conventions
So, as Mike mentioned both last night on IRC and today in the GenCon 2006 thread, a lot of us already take Wednesday off for travel purposes, or because we need to be there for the booth... and is it really too much more of a hassle to take off Monday and Tuesday too? For some of us, maybe not, especially with enough planning in advance. If you can do that, you can even leave Saturday, and turn GenCon from a four day event (or less if you, like some of us, leave early on Sunday) into an eight or nine day event. Four days in the frenetics of the con, four or five days of a more sedate "pre-convention".

Is anyone else twigged, intrigued, and enthused by this idea? I certainly am!


  • Thor brought up a concern in the thread that this came from, that of exhaustion.

    Here's the thing. I think that if you had twice as much time to get things in, one might not feel quite as compelled to eschew sleep and play all the time. In addition to not being exhausted all the time, I think that we might get a lot more done in terms of more solely-social activities. There could be a meet n' greet with no gaming allowed on the first night, for instance.

    OTOH, maybe it would kill some people still desperate to get in as much as possible while together. All I can say is that, if this does happen, people should pace themselves better.

  • Yes, I think that this is a way to slowly ramp up. The four days of the convention itself are frenetic in part because there's so many people there, and there's the booth to handle, and the scheduled games, etc. The additional proposed days before the convention, I fully expect to be more sedate. With a smaller population, plus the knowledge that there's more time in which to do things means that, even if we're still cramming, we can do it with less scrambling...
  • It's like after every vacation I need another one to rest myself. Especially during Passover/Channuka when in two weeks I go to two 3-4 days conventions. Get up at 0600, get home at 2200, look at booty, fall asleep.

    We need more time for the booty!

    I'd have these "4-5" days be post-con thus, not pre-con.
  • Sounds like Edinburough Fringe Fest.

    Short Version: Once upon a time, Edinburough had a Theater Festival with eight or so plays that ran in a couple different venues in the city. But with only eight plays, this meant that the barrier for entry to act in or produce a play was high. So some folks got together and created the Fringe Festival, running concurrently with the Theater Festival, in which anybody could find a venue and sign up to go in the catalog. Years later, both festivals are still going strong, still running over the same week in August, but these days, Fringe Festival is huge, with 100+ plays and venues, and totally eclipses Theater Festival.
  • Twitch.

    Okay, you have my attention. A full week of such stuff would be ... expensive and very, very hard to arrange, but also would completely alter the structure of my entire year for the better.

  • Thunder_God:

    Doing it after the post-con removes one of the biggest convenience factors: that of combining the trip with the previous weekend. By doing this, we take only an additional two (or maybe 3) days out of our lives, and wind up with four or five thanks to the magic of 'weekend'.

    I agree, it would be expensive and hard to arrange, but it also makes me explode with awesome just thinking about it!
  • I... I would be in. Windup or cooldown, I can see the benefits in both. Maybe not a total of nine full days, but a solid extra two days or so would be pretty cool, and probably wouldn't affect my budget all that differently (save hotel).

  • What we're talking about here is when to declare this event as happening. Because, of course, anyone can come earlier or stay later if they want. The only question is organizing a time that a large enough group of people can commit to in order that there be enough people to play with. No reason other groups can't decide to stay into the next week if they prefer.

    I'm with Alex on doing it pre-con because of the extra days the weekend gives without additional time off. But that's just what works for me. Put another way, I think that everyone should set up a group of people that works with their combined schedules. Heck, I could see people staying the whole next week or something, and the whole course of available folks being in Indy around GenCon being 16 days long.

    Then individuals just pick and choose when they want to be there.

    OTOH, this runs the risk of there being less there at any one time. But if they're there at one time because they wouldn't be there the other, you're not really losing anyone.

  • I'm definitely planning on going to GenCon next year, and the thought of a full Week+ of gaming is... awesome. Especially if only half of it is the full-on chaos of the main con.
  • This is definitely sounds intriguing, but also expensive. But if I make the trip to GenCon Indy I might as well go all-out. :3
  • Are there discounts for Genconners on the hotel rates? Would they be able to be extended for these extra days?
  • I'm coming to GenCon next year, if we can hook up with locals for housing for the extra days, I think this will rock on toast, and I'll be all over it.
    Less for price reasons(getting to the USA costs me enough as is), but for the experience. Been ages since I slept over, except at the army, which doesn't count.
  • We sort of did this this year. Jonathan Walton, Shreyas Sampat, and I all met up in Boston the weekend before Gen Con and roadtripped down. It really did feel less pressured than last year for me. The time to just talk to people I don't see often and get some hardcore gaming discussions done had me more relaxed for the con itself.

    As for cost, that's going to be a bit odd. The downtown hotels tend to have rates that are significantly lower outside of con-time, but still pretty high. For instance, we stayed at the Homewood Suites which cost us $160 (or so) for Wednesday night, and ramped up to around $240 a night for the convention itself. I imagine other hotels downtown are doing similar stuff.

    I'd be interested in doing something like this...
  • After 10+ hours of driving, with another 6+ to go till we get home, all I can say is 'glaaaahhhaa'.

    I want more time to see you lot / hang out / game, but I don't know if I can see the cost (both in money and in family harmony) in extending it any farther. We get there Wednesday, leave Monday, and that gives two more nights of gaming etc already.

    Alternative: More local cons! Especially smaller cons, like JiffyCon. Let's get together closer to home more often (Nathan and Luke, this means you).
  • Pre-con would be awesome. Especially if you could use the days prior to GenCon to teach people how to play your game that you're planning on selling. Bang! Instant buzz and demo people.

  • Good point, Paul.

    Mark, as Thomas says, the contrary is true. Instead of a reduced price, they jack up the prices considerably, as they have you over a barrel. The usual method of reducing this cost is to stay with a lot of people.

    Guy, as for staying with locals, I don't think there are any. Actually, as it happens, I have a friend from college that I stay with in Indy, but I don't think he's interested in hosting a bunch of people he doesn't know.

  • Heh. Pregen Con. BYOC (Bring Your Own Character)!
  • edited August 2006
    I'd think Pre-Gen Con would be preferable to Post-Gen Con. After Gen Con, people are going to be wiped. Beforehand, people will be fresh -- especially if the pace is more sedate.

    Of course, the next step is finding a small conference room and seeing how much it'd run for a couple days before Gen Con. ;)
  • Do we really need a conference room? If the idea is to be staying in close proximity, camping rooms or lobby tables should work fine, right?
  • Sure, theoretically. Maybe we can ask Matt Snyder how simple it is to have a few friends get together to game. ;)
  • Good thing I have a friend over there from my WotC Chat days :)
  • I used to live in Indianapolis, and there are a couple of hotels on the east side the frequently host game/comic/other fanboy-type conventions. It might be far cheaper to arrange conference rooms, etc, at a non-downtown location (especially the slightly more low-rent districts). Holiday Inn - East on Shadeland comes to mind. This has its own problems (it means that people will have to have transport either to downtown once GenCon starts, or to the pre-con if staying Downtown) but might be worth it due to cost. Conceivably the cost difference might be such that you could get hotel rooms for the entire week, a conference room or two for the few days before GenCon and access to a Shuttle Bus of some sort and still pay less overall than you would at a hotel downtown.
  • Yeah, I'd totally be game for such an idea.

    I got a lot out of the 2-3 hours of demo trading on Wednesday evening...
    Imagine several days to take in others demos, etc, etc.

    I'd say - book as a group. If you call a hotel up (somewhere close to the convention centre, I'd say) in advance and say:
    "We'd like to book eight rooms for eight days. Preferably all on the same floor. We'd also like to book a convention room for the first three days."

    If you book as a group, for that period, instead of individually...
    You should be able to get a great rate.
    And I'd totally say somewhere within walking distance of the con.
  • Camping is the way to go. $15 a night for as many people as you can fit in one campsite, as long as you're at state parks. Food's cheaper (and better) too. Beautiful scenery and a much more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Okay folks, two object lessons:

    • The GenCon train plan: People talked about what a good idea it would be in theory, and then waited around for a critical mass of people to have already committed in practice. It never got off the ground.
    • The Go Play meme: Folks just started doing shit, without waiting for approval or even critical mass, and made the pieces fit together by constant feedback. It self-launched, accelerated, and headed straight for the stratosphere.

    I know which model I would recommend. I'm going to get in touch with the Embassy Suites and figure out with them:

    • How/whether one could join their outside-convention prices for saturday-tuesday nights with their convention prices (through GenCon block purchase) for wednesday through sunday.
    • What the grand total cost would be for a suite for that week.

    I'll get back to you when I have some information.

  • Well, within walking distance of the Con, they're going to still charge the higher rates for the days of the Con itself. I'm almost positive. But it can't hurt to check. Still, I'm thinking that players can play in the rooms and or in the public areas and such. Especially if a couple of them are hospitality suites or the like.

    That said, there is something to be said about having a dedicated space. Hmm.

  • Tony: Hell yeah.

  • Jonathan's got a keen idea. I want a GenCon campout. Are there campgrounds anywhere nearby?

    Also, Tony, this is the sound of me cheering you on.
  • Josh,

    Shreyas, Jon, and I stayed Tuesday night before Gen Con at Mounds State Park in Anderson, IN. It was about a 40 minute drive to downtown Indy from there. I'm willing to bet that there are some KOA sites even closer in.

  • Cause I mean: Gen Con S'mores.
  • edited August 2006


    Embassy Suites doesn't even know yet exactly what rates they intend to charge in August. They said (and I'm inclined to sympathize here!) that they had never had someone asking about their prices a full year in advance. They did, however, have rates for July: $269 per night for a suite. Those suites are technically rated for six people, and I'll say that in my experience they're capable of ... ahem ... more.

    I asked, naturally enough, about group rates. I floated the figure of eight rooms, and was informed that the Embassy has a policy that they don't negotiate group rates until a group is looking to book at least ten rooms. I don't honestly know whether conference rooms are included in that, but I'd guess No. They couldn't give me rates, because rates are ... y'know ... negotiated.

    Attitude-wise, they seemed pretty excited about the prospect of having GenCon gamers for more than those four days. Maybe that's just really good customer service on their part, because I'd be inclined to think that our behavior isn't really suited to make us popular ... but then again, maybe either (a) they like people who are having a helluva lot of fun or (b) we're big tippers.


    That's over $1K for a single room for the four extra days we're talking about. Ouch. Dividing that five or six ways puts it well within the reach of the more affluent of us (me, for instance!) but it does make for a very substantial barrier to somebody just saying "What the hell! I'll grab a room and have faith that other people will come down to the Embassy Suites for those four days, rather than ... say ... a KOA campground somewhere.

    Absolutely crazy-ass pipe-dream:

    Y'know what would be better than a public campground? A rented/chartered 4-H camp. Miles of trails, big open pit camp-fires, cabins to crash in, and nobody but nobody to bother us.

    We could boffer. We could LARP. We could boffer-LARP. I kick all of y'all's asses with a foam sword and main-gauche ... believe it!

  • edited August 2006
    Tony, if you're thinking Dc-ish, I'll put in a good word for Prince William Forest
  • I was thinking more in the Indianapolis area.

    But that was before I remembered the natural consequence of such long outdoor gaming weekends: a deep, full-body ... ahem ... musk that will not be covered or denied for at least a few days after the event.

    If it were after GenCon itself? Maybe. Before? Bad plan. We need regular showers, to maintain our dewy freshness for when the convention proper kicks into gear.

  • Tony, others -

    If someone gives me a nod, I will call a few other hotels within the area, and ask about group rates for the 4 days before Gencon.

    I know that the Hilton cost me $150 for 4 days, when the room was split 5 ways.
    so, the room is about $180 a night - two double beds, a foldout couch, floorspace for several people.
    And they have a big conference room that was open the entire Gencon for open gaming.

    Anyways, if someone tells me what our expected numbers are, I can call some places and look for cheaper hotels within the area.
  • Most campsites are all sissy and all and feature convenient water and showers. This isn't all Philmont where we have to hike 8 miles to get to a stream.

    My only hiccup would be:

    1) If weather sucks, many of us may get sick.
    2) If the weather sucks, it will be hard to game (unless we have a few of them mega-tent gazebo things)

    Otherwise, the idea isn't totally bad. Then again, 180 per person total for four additional days isn't too unreasonable either... hmmm...
  • Joe: Go for it. Because another idea would be to basically crash for those four pre-gencon days in a CHEAPER hotel somewhere else IN/NEAR Indianapolis (that does have a place to do gaming), not necisserily at the pimpin awesome hotel of Truth.
  • Near as I can tell, this is about an hour outside Indianapolis, a little south of Crawfordsville, IN at Shades State Park:

    " Pine Hills Group Camp: $310.00 plus tax. 15 Cabins with capacities 3 - 5 - 10 - 14 with total capacity of 157 people. Cabins are not heated or air conditioned. Rental includes a dining hall that is equipped with all pots, pans, cooking and serving utensils to cook for and serve 157 people. It has a walk-in refrigerator and walk-in freezer. Centralized modern bathhouse is assessable. Minimum 1 night during week, 2 nights on weekend. Can be reserved up to 1 year to 6 months prior to arrival date.

    If 6 months prior to arrival date, this facility has not been rented as a group camp, individual cabins can be rented as Pine Hills Group Cottages."

    $310 a night for up to 157 people? Sounds reasonable to me.

  • Posted By: TonyLBhey had never had someone asking about their prices afull year in advance
    I used to work in a hotel, and we tried to get the people to book their rooms for the next year when they were checking out from the convention (or, in my case, leaving from a basketball tournament).
  • edited August 2006
    saturday, sunday, monday, tuesday: four nights (since weds we need to be in indy for booth setup) times 310 = 1240. Let's round that up to 1300 for, like, tax and whatnot fees.

    All we need are ten people to get that down to $130 each. The only hard part is getting from the Indianapolis airport on out there without killing in taxi fees.
  • Presumably it would be possible to set up Super-Shuttles to take groups of people, say 1 at noon saturday, one at 6pm? And to have them come get people on Wed morning? I know little of such things.
  • I'm all for camping. However, Albert is less so. Also, there is something to be said for the convenience of not having to switch locations, bring camping gear, etc. I would pay money for that convenience and I'm a poor grad student. Using Tony's numbers, and assuming 6 people per suite, that's 180$/person for the four extra nights. And that's really not so bad.

  • Posted By: Dave YounceCentralized modern bathhouse is assessable.
    And my assessment is that it's awesome.
  • Well, I think cabins with a dining hall and a bathhouse are a pretty happy medium between full-fledged camping and the expensiveness of a hotel...
  • And I mean, dining hall = play area, obviously.
  • The difference between "Bath-house ... by which we mean an institutional block-house with group showers" and "Bath-house ... by which we mean a well-nigh Japanese establishment with large hot baths" is ... that's a big difference. I wonder which one they're talking about. Someone with a link able to fetch more information (or just the link)?

    If it's the latter, I will totally invest in more laminating supplies.

  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyAnd I mean,dining hall=play area, obviously.
    The perfect play-area too, since it's right next to a kitchen!
  • $310 a night for a camp facility for 157 people? That's damned cheap. I've been involved in putting together church camps, and the only place I've ever seen that would come close to this rate or beat it was a facility owned by my denomination, that had a special deal for youth and young adult groups that was $50 for a weekend (or per night, never totally figured it out), for a facility that could sleep about 50 in beds or so.

    It's probaly a block house with group showers, or at least slightly raggedy individual showers...

    Such a facility would have lots of awesomeness. The cabins could be used for more intimate gaming during the day if we didn't all want to be yelling and screaming in the dining hall. But definitely the dining hall would be great for gaming. No AC would be a little uncomfortable, but not bad. These places usually have a nice fire circle which would be cool.

    You probably have to bring your own sleeping bag, but that isn't much of an additional hassle (and perhaps some of the folks driving could bring extras for those who are flying).

  • edited August 2006
    CURSES! This Just In! informs me that Pine Hills Group Camp is NOT in Shades State Park, but actually in Lincoln State Park, which is 4 HOURS! from Indianapolis.

    Crawfordsville is the location of the Pine Hills Nature Preserve, thus the mistake. Sorry! I was just getting super-psyched about Camp Story Games, too. DANGIT!
  • Well, if we only need to travel four hours once or twice by bus, that's not too big a deal... it's still possible?
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